Today was a long day of travel, and layovers, and mechanical issues on planes, and trying to wrap up details for an all-of-a-sudden week away that I’m not totally convinced I should have taken. But my child life team and boss are amazingly supportive. They have made some real sacrifices to help me be here, for which I am so amazed and grateful – and here I am.
I just arrived in Orlando to join a small Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) critical response team. This is a specialized team of experienced CDS volunteers who were called upon by the Red Cross
yesterday to come work with the children affected by the horrific massacre that happened here a few days ago.
We all know that even though there were no child fatalities, there are still child victims of this man-made disaster. Children, just like adults, will be forever affected by the tragedy in Orlando. The difference is that for many of the children, this may be their very first experience with grief and loss- and it is quite an intense one. They are also facing realities of “bad guys” and what all that means for their world-view and for their futures. Children often do not have the cognitive ability to fully comprehend these things or to regulate or manage the overwhelming emotions and confusion they may be feeling. They also often have parent(s) who are beyond overwhelmed themselves and may be struggling to effectively attend to their child’s emotional and psychosocial needs right now.
So, those are things I know. I know many of you reading this also know these things. But I think saying what I know right now is helping me as I step into a whole lot of unknowns with this deployment. I’m feeling the heaviness of this one for sure. And the reality is, I just really have no idea what to expect.
A billboard outside our hotel